Gonski 2.0 to ‘massively overfund’ private schools, claims new data

Gonski 2.0 to ‘massively overfund’ private schools, claims new data
Confidential data obtained under Freedom of Information shows a significant increase in over-funding of private schools by 2027.

The Federal Education Department data was obtained by the Australian Education Union (AEU) and processed by Trevor Cobbold, national convenor of public school advocates, Save Our Schools.

It claims that the Federal Government’s Gonski 2.0 school funding plan will increase the number of over-funded private schools and systems from 143 this year to 257 next year.

However, the proportion those that are overfunded will almost double from 17% to 32%. By 2027, a total of 531, or 66% of all Independent schools and systems, will be over-funded – and some by very large amounts.

Of the increase of 531 over-funded Independent schools and systems in 2027, 289 will be newly over-funded as a result of increased Federal Government funding, 134 schools and systems that are already over-funded will have their over-funding increased and 107 will have their over-funding reduced but remain over-funded.

Cobbold said this “massive increase” will occur because the Federal Government is increasing funding for private schools to 80% of their public funding entitlement as measured by their Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) while many are already funded at over 20% of their SRS by State and Territory governments.

“Gonski 2.0 is the best special deal that Independent schools have ever had. It far surpasses the special deals provided by the Howard Government,” Cobbold said.

“The over-funding will cost taxpayers millions over the next decade, and will divert funds from where they are most needed in disadvantaged schools.”

AEU federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said the Gonski 2.0 funding model “entrenches inequity”.

“As more data becomes available, there is absolutely no doubt that the Turnbull Government’s education funding changes favour private, independent and Catholic schools and fail to adequately fund public schools,” Haythorpe said.

“Disability funding for public schools will also go backwards in five states and territories next year. This will significantly impact on the learning programs that public schools can provide to cater for students with disability.”

However, Federal Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, said the Gonski 2.0 funding reforms would “stop states taking increased schools funding from the Commonwealth with one hand and reducing their own contribution with the other”.

“Our reforms are a line in the sand for the cost-shifting and blame game that’s carried on in the schools funding debate,” Minister Birmingham said in a statement provided to The Educator.

“The Gonski needs-based funding plan means every student will get their fair and consistently calculated share of federal support.”

Peter Goss, school education program director at the Grattan Institute, said the AEU/SOS analysis overall, and the way it is presented, is “misleading”.

“This is a ‘what if’ analysis that is very useful, but is presented as a ‘will be’ analysis, and that’s not right,” Goss told The Educator.

Goss said the analysis accepts that the Federal Government will change its part of the system but assumes that the States won’t change theirs, adding that this is why the paper predicts “silly outcomes”.

“If the States and Territories don’t change what they’re going to do, then we have a problem, and the paper quite rightly points that out. However, it’s now up to them to balance their funding so that we don’t end up in that situation,” Goss said.

Goss said another part where the analysis is misleading is that it “presents one side of the picture but not the counter-factual”.

“It discusses briefly what would have happened under the original Gonski model and says that more non-government schools under this version of the model would end up above their SES targets,” Goss said.

“However, it doesn’t compare what would be more useful, which is how much money above target would be given to non-government schools that are overfunded according to the formula.”

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